May 30th, 2013 | University

Thomas Friedman dispenses job-hunting advice

What’s the best way to get a job in today’s world? According to a May 28 article written by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, academic degrees no longer matter — rather, employers have begun to rely on unique aptitude tests that measure skills that have nothing to do with what an applicant studied in college.

Friedman’s column has gained widespread attention in the days since its publication, as it criticizes the rapidly evolving job market for being “broken.” Many applicants lack the appropriate skills, and many employers have unrealistic expectations for applicants, leading to frustration on both sides.

“Since jobs are evolving so quickly, with so many new tools, a bachelor’s degree is no longer considered an adequate proxy by employers for your ability to do a particular job — and, therefore, be hired,” Friedman said in the article. “So, more employers are designing their own tests to measure applicants’ skills. And they increasingly don’t care how those skills were acquired: home schooling, an online university, a massive open online course, or Yale. They just want to know one thing: Can you add value?”

The article points to HireArt, a company that custom-matches employers with employees who have relevant skill sets through its website. The website asks candidates to complete tasks that mimic the work they would do on the job: For instance, an applicant to a social media position would be asked to demonstrate familiarity with social networking sites such as Facebook and Pinterest, and someone applying for a sales job would be asked to record a sales pitch over video.

Additionally, because job-seekers today tend to cast a wide net by applying to a higher-than-ever number of jobs, employers have a more difficult time sorting through applications to find appropriate employees — but the website culls through applications and presents the “most promising applicants” to the employer.

According to Eleonora Sharef, one of HireArt’s co-founders, people get rejected from jobs either because they don’t show employers how they will add value or because they don’t know what they want. The most successful job candidates, according to Sharef, are “inventors and solution-finders.”

According to Friedman, these kinds of candidates do the best because they “understand that many employers today don’t care about your résumé, degree or how you got your knowledge, but only what you can do and what you can continuously reinvent yourself to do.”